Wool Week: Nicole Leybourne

We love wool, and this week is Choose Wool Week, so we thought we’d get involved by doing a series of little interviews featuring some of our favourite New Zealanders working with wool.

Wool is a renewable and biodegradable fibre source, it’s beautiful, warm, versatile, natural, local and just plain lovely…

Nicole Leybourne agrees:

My granddad, born in a small New Zealand town, Dannevirke, was one of our country’s first wool traders, going from town to town selling and dealing wool by the bucket load. Life on the road was pretty lonely, so he eventually gave it up to start a family and to work in insurance. Life was really different back then, but not much has changed on the woolly front in New Zealand. We still have a really high sheep to person ratio, (we’re home to around 70 million sheep. That’s a lot of woolly jumpers) and although the number of sheep has risen and fallen over the years, the cliché still sticks. We just wouldn’t be New Zealand without all of our sheep.

New Zealand merino wool is a natural fibre. One that’s biodegradable (releases important nitrogen-based nutrients back into the soil which acts as a fertiliser), versatile (hello knitting) and wonderfully soft. It’s also temperature-regulating, odour-resistant and rather resilient. Wool is actually truly wonderful and it’s a natural resource that I’ve come to appreciate more and more since working with it.

I started knitting when I was about eleven or twelve. My mum taught me the basics, how to knit the standard garter stitch. I still couldn’t cast on or off, so when I wanted to knit a scarf for one of my school projects I asked my nana to do it for me. And that was the end of that.

Since then my love for wool and for knitting has grown. I was obsessed with chunky, thick, good quality yarns and my quest to find the perfect type of wool was born. I spent hours and a lot of money finding and sourcing the most amazing thick yarns for my handmade designs – jumpers, blankets, and eventually I’ll be adding socks too.

My mum also knits a lot. We’re regularly snapchatting each other our woolly designs. And although I get the odd look while knitting on a flight, in the 40-degree Perth heat (where I’m currently based), or a silly comment from my friends and family about how I knit far too much, I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. When my wool order arrives, and my friend catches me opening the big cardboard boxes, he tells me that christmas has come early. And I can’t really deny it.

Happy Wool Week world!


Nicole Leybourne the Knitter

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